Southside Village Historic Conservation Initiative
29 April 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Peggy Schlesinger
SOUTHSIDE VILLAGE MOVES TO BECOME HISTORIC CONSERVATION DISTRICT
The Southside Village Reunion Festival was held on Saturday, April 23, at N. J. Harris Park near Downtown Chandler to recognize and celebrate the surrounding neighborhood by bringing together current and former residents in joyous neighborhood camaraderie. More than 120 residents participated along with Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke.
The Southside Village Reunion Festival was sponsored by Chandler4Change and South Chandler Self Help. These organizations collaborated with the Salvation Army, who supplied the food and drinks, and the City of Chandler Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department.
The goal of the event in the park was to collect signatures to petition the City of Chandler to recognize the neighborhood as a Historic Conservation District to preserve the history of Southside Village for the future and to recognize the contributions of the people of color who lived industrious lives despite severe hardships and segregation.
Southside Village is a Chandler neighborhood bordered north/south by Frye and Pecos Roads and east/west by Arizona Avenue and the railroad tracks east of Delaware Street.
In 1910, Dr. A.J. Chandler officially set aside 100 lots for African American and Latinx workers who were recruited as laborers for the growing agriculture industry. These new residents were banned from settling in surrounding areas due to racist segregation zoning. The historical significance of the neighborhood stems from these creative and hard-working residents who built their lives on those 100 lots. The community that rose from the desert south of the City of Chandler became key to the success of the entire region.
Since 1912, the year of Arizona’s statehood, this area was the neighborhood for the non-white residents of Chandler. However, it was not originally considered an official part of the City of Chandler. The neighborhood has been known by many names including Winn Addition, Southside, Mexican Town, The Barrio, South Chandler, and Historic South Chandler Neighborhood.
Many residents rose above segregation to contribute in significant ways to Chandler society. Some of the ways local residents contributed to the early growth of Chandler, which continues today, were as lawyers, authors, politicians, entrepreneurs, and doctors. The first documented African American to arrive was N.J. Harris who was hired to be Dr. Chandler's chauffeur. Like many other productive inhabitants, Mr. Harris found creative ways to better his life and the life of his family. After retirement, he opened a barbecue restaurant that his daughter, Alberta Harris Jacko, continued to run. The restaurant became the longest operating African American woman-owned business in Chandler.
Several important political figures lived in Southside Village. Raul Navarrete was mayor from 1972 until 1976 and Coy Payne was mayor from 1990 until 1994. Both former mayors lived in the area. Past Chandler city councilmembers Philip Duenas and Philip Westbrooks also lived in the neighborhood.
Many community advocates from this neighborhood worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the local residents. One example is Pluarco Garcia. He was instrumental in getting clean water and sanitation to this area. In addition, Carlanthe Turner’s efforts helped end school segregation in Chandler. Emma Arbuckle was a friend and helper to all people. She helped curtail racial unrest during the Civil Rights Era. Another prominent resident was Zora Folley, a professional boxer who fought Muhammad Ali.
The Winn School was built in the neighborhood in 1929. It is still standing and in use today as the home of the Salvation Army. This and other buildings in the community highlight the historically significant architecture in the neighborhood. Some properties date back to 1912. Seventy-three residential properties are at least fifty years old.
The Southside Village team will continue to work with the City of Chandler Historic Preservation Office to recognize this historically, architecturally, and culturally significant neighborhood as a “Historic Conservation District” to preserve and celebrate the rich cultural history of Chandler.